What can I do if a DHB has put incorrect information about my son on his file and refuses to remove it?

Question Details: A local DHB has been given and collated incorrect information about my son, which is on his file with that DHB. The DHB did not advise me that they were collecting information about him and have refused to remove it (but will not give reasons for reaching that decision). Is there anything I can do to get the file corrected?

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

You can ask any agency to correct personal information about you, including a local DHB. If they refuse to do so and won't give reasons, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner.

An agency which has been asked to correct personal information must take reasonable steps to correct that information. If the agency refuses to correct the information, it must give you a reason and tell you how you to complain the Privacy Commissioner about its decision.

You can contact an agency regarding information it holds about someone else if that person gives you written authority for your actions. In your situation, given that the person is your son, you probably do not need written authority unless he is 16 or older and capable of contacting the DHB himself. However, if your son is old enough to understand, it may be sensible to get written authority anyway.

We suggest that you contact the DHB on your son’s behalf again and ask to speak to the DHB’s Privacy Officer. If the DHB does not have a Privacy Officer, ask to talk to someone senior. You should then ask for the file to be corrected. If they refuse, ask for a reason.

Even if the DHB refuses to correct the information, you can ask them to attach to your son’s file a statement of the correction which you want made. The DHB must take any reasonable steps to attach the statement so that it will always be read with the personal information about your son.

If you are still not satisfied, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner. At this stage, records of who you spoke to and when, what you said, and how they responded will be helpful. You can download an official complaint form from www.privacy.org.nz and send a written complaint to: Officer of the Privacy Commissioner, PO Box 10094, Wellington. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will consider your complaint and decide whether to investigate it.

You can find more information about your rights under the Privacy Act and the Health Information Privacy Code, and how to complain to the Privacy Commissioner, by going to the Commissioner’s website: www.privacy.org.nz.

Answered 8 Oct 2013. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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